One of the huge benefits of hydrogen is its versatility – it can be produced from any primary energy source which makes it limitless in terms of availability.
The basic distinction is made between conventional hydrogen production based on fossil feedstocks, e.g. through steam reforming of natural gas, and renewable hydrogen production based on renewable feedstocks such as biogenous processes (biomass gasification or biogas reforming etc.) or electrolysis of water (H2O) with wind power, water power or solar energy.
Today, hydrogen is mainly produced by steam reforming fossil fuels such as natural gas. Excess hydrogen is also recovered as a by-product from various industrial processes. Even though hydrogen generated from fossil feedstocks has the advantage of zero-tailpipe emissions, the production chain still leaves a carbon footprint. Well-to-wheel emissions of a hydrogen fuel-cell car are nonetheless approximately 30% lower than those of a conventional diesel-powered car.
Building on these conventional hydrogen production techniques and Linde’s experience of more than 100 years of H2 production, we are actively developing technologies to ultimately increase the share of renewably produced hydrogen.
Our long-term aim is to significantly increase the sustainable share in the hydrogen mix using renewable energy sources such as wind, water and biomass. At present, electrolysis of water using wind, water or solar power and reforming of biogas are viable alternatives that offer a zero-emission hydrogen energy cycle.
For instance, following extensive studies and laboratory tests, we are operating a Power to Gas demo plant together with our partners at Mainz in Germany. In this facility, wind power is used to produce hydrogen via electrolysis and transported to customers such as hydrogen fuelling stations.